Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: Edge of Eternity

I am not a fast reader. I almost never finish a book before it’s due at the library and usually max out my renewals before bringing it back. Even so, I normally finish a work before the seasons change.

That was not the case with Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity, part of his Century trilogy. I started listening to the audiobook on May 17, when green leaves began to appear on trees, and finally finished the novel on Wednesday, when those same leaves started to yellow.

One reason was that I simply had other things to do — like write and edit Class of ’59. Another was that Follett’s latest work was long — as in 1,136 print pages or nearly 37 audio HOURS long.

But the biggest reason I didn’t rush to finish the book is that I didn’t find it as compelling as Follett’s previous works. I have read nineteen of the Welsh author's novels and loved most. I consider The Pillars of the Earth my all-time favorite book.

Edge of Eternity, unfortunately, did not measure up. Unlike with Fall of Giants and Winter of the World, the series’ first two novels, Follett tried to take on too much. That can happen when you try to follow seven families and dozens of others, including real historical figures, through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the fall of Communism.

But Follett compounded his challenge by turning his characters into cliches and giving his work a partisan edge it didn’t need. For much of the book, it seemed the author was more interested in sending a message to his readers than in connecting with them.

I hope Follett returns to writing shorter, more focused novels, like Eye of the Needle, Jackdaws, Hornet Flight, and Night Over Water. I know I will be ready to read them when he does. Rating: 2/5.

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